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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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have a low density. Africa, with an overall population density of 8 per square kilometer, the lowest of any continent in the world, has been one of the most unstable regions during the past two decades. Moreover, even when regional characteristics are weighed as an influence, there is no noticeable relationship between density and political instability. The Philippines, which has been among the more stable countries of southeast Asia, has a density of 93, while Indonesia, one of the least stable countries, has a density of 62. In Africa, Nigeria is high with a density of 38, but the Congo is low with 6, as is Guinea with 12, and Angola with 4. In the Middle East the relatively stable country of Tunisia has a high density of 33 compared to Syria with 25, Egypt with 26, Morocco 26, and Yemen 26. Finally, contrary to popular impressions, population density in mainland China is not high by Asian standards. Its population density is 68, lower than that of India, Pakistan (98), South Korea, North Vietnam, Japan, or Ceylon; and about the same as that of Nepal-67(41).
In one important respect these simple correlations are, of course, quite misleading, for they do not take into account that some countries, such as mainland China, have large uninhabited areas, so that in some parts of the country density is extraordinarily high. Thus, although the density of Indonesia is lower than some other parts of south and southeast Asia, the island of Java is one of the most densely populated agrarian regions of the world. Similarly, in India, the density of the small state of Kerala, which shares with Java the reputation for being violent and unstable, is three times that of India as a whole. A close examination of the relationship between regional density within a society and levels of violence would be useful. However, one can readily point to many densely populated areas of the world that have been highly stable and to many countries of Latin America and Africa with relatively low population densities on arable land that have been highly unstable. There is, in short, no evidence yet that population density alone is either a necessary or sufficient condition of political stability.
One can, however, discern a relationship between political organization and population density. It is customary for political scientists to consider the growth of political organizations and the articulation of political interests as a consequence of an increased division of labor and, in general, of the growing differentiation of social groups. Marx, for example, saw the differentiation of occupations in relationship to property ownership as the major dimension in the organization of conflicting interests. Modern political scientists following Durkheim and Weber are more likely to see all differentiations of occupations as a determinant of political organization. One can, however, note the striking fact that concentration of populations in a given space is a factor in whether or not political organizations emerge. Dispersed, nomadic, pastoral peoples, for example, appear to be less able to organize to exercise influence on government than are settled agriculturalists; and settled but dispersed tenant